CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - The CDC is tracking a new line of the COVID-19 virus. According to the lab, it has more than 30 mutations in total, which is much more than any other COVID variant circulating. This comes at a time when COVID-19 hospitalizations are beginning to rise up to more than 6,000 a week. For one in every five people who get COVID, the symptoms persist for months—if not years. New research out of Northwestern Medicine finds that millions of people who tested negative for the virus may actually have long COVID.

Brain fog, memory problems, fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, breathing problems, muscle aches, and heart issues are all symptoms of long COVID, and they can be life-changing.

Neurologist Igor Koralnik is part of a team that studied more than 1,800 long COVID patients.

“More than 90 percent of patients that we see in the clinic are people who have never been hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia,” said Dr. Koralnik.

Their study found:

  • 83 percent of patients had abnormal CT chest scans
  • 51 percent had cognitive impairment
  • 45 percent had altered lung function
  • 12 percent had an elevated heart rate

Long COVID has become the third leading neurologic disorder in the U.S. Thirty million people have been affected.

“Among previously hospitalized patients, the average age is 54. But among people who had never been hospitalized, with a mild case of COVID-19 initially, the average age is 44,” said Dr. Koralnik.

And surprisingly, long COVID hits women in their forties, who were never hospitalized earlier due to COVID.

“We think that long COVID is a new autoimmune disease which is caused by the virus,” explained Dr. Koralnik.

Women are four times more likely than men to develop autoimmune diseases. Now Dr. Koralnik encourages patients to keep looking for a customized treatment that works for them.

Researchers at Northwestern are looking at biomarkers in the blood to see if they hold answers as to why one person’s symptoms linger on, while others recover quickly. Dr. Koralnik says that although the COVID-19 vaccine continues to save lives, they do not believe it has an impact on whether or not a person will get long COVID.

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